Why Keto? Four Reasons to Follow a Keto Diet.

Since starting this new way of eating, a lot of people have asked me “why keto?” and since that’s something that I can never seem to answer in just one sentence, I thought I’d give you a little breakdown of my reasons.

1. Science

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When I was pregnant with my eldest, I developed gestational diabetes which never resolved itself because of my weight, so in my second pregnancy I was actually injecting insulin. During both pregnancies, I was advised to follow a low GI diet and it gave me a basis of knowledge in terms of what the actual chemical make-up of food does to your body. Then, my husband discovered keto about 18 months ago and started following a low carb diet on and off, leading both of us to do a lot more reading and when you do that there’s just no denying the science behind keto. There’s more to healthy eating that simple calories in vs. calories spent and in terms of my personal health, keto seemed to be the most effective thing.

2. Intense Dislike of Weightloss Groups

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Let me begin by saying that I have friends who have lost weight using Weight Watchers and Slimming World and it’s worked for them, so that’s fine. However, I have an intense dislike of these types of groups for a number of reasons. Firstly, if a company’s profits depend on YOU remaining overweight or needing to diet, they simply do not have a vested interest in you ever becoming ‘slim for life’. If everyone who followed their plans lost weight and kept it off, their profits would disappear.

Secondly, they make the job of losing weight overly complicated so that you feel like you couldn’t possibly do it yourself. You think that you NEED the magic books with figures for points and syns and whatever else they may call it, when all you really need to do is eat healthy food, cut sugar out of your diet and move around more. They never seem to advocate exercise, which is ESSENTIAL for a healthy body and they also remove all accountability – want to eat that pizza? Well, Slimming World says it’s okay because you can use your Syns. Yeah, yeah, everything in moderation, I know, except that DOESN’T help you to lose weight. Losing weight is achieved through hard work, not half measures and this is exactly was SW and WW promote because they NEED YOU TO BE FAT. There is no-one involved with keto who has a vested interest in keeping me fat.

3. It’s Sustainable

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Eating keto is something that, even when I’m at my “ideal weight” I’ll continue to do because it’s actually a really sustainable and enjoyable way to eat. For most people I speak to their first reaction is “Oh, I could never give up carbs, I love them too much”, but that’s exactly the point. There was NO bigger carb monster than me; I could easily polish off a whole family sized bag of crisps myself, tubes of Pringles, extra mash or roast potatoes with dinner, anything made of potatoes or pasta or rice was like crack to me! Removing these from my diet has improved my blood sugar levels, given me more energy, helped me to lose 19lb in just 6 weeks, and I’ve not felt deprived at all. I can still enjoy lovely meals with my family, I just have to think a little bit harder about how to make them work for me.

And finally, the best reason of them all…

4. BACON!

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A “diet” which positively encourages the consumption of bacon. Need I say more?!

Tips for Dealing with Keto Flu

Tips for Dealing with Keto FluIf you’ve decided to start eating keto, there’s a good chance you’ll come across the expression “keto flu” whilst doing your initial reading about it. But what is keto flu? Well, this refers to the transition your body makes when it starts to burn fat instead of glucose (and your body starts excreting ketones in your urine). For many people, keto flu is no big deal and a lot of people report not having any issues with it at all, but for some of us keto flu can make you feel pretty rough for a few days.

I’ve gone in and out of ketosis twice now, once when I initially started and again after I had my cheat day, and because I knew what to expect and how to deal with it the second time around it was far less awful to deal with. The first time I went into ketosis, I really felt like I had flu for a couple of days. My stomach would turn over even at the thought of eating food and I felt on the verge of vomiting the whole time, even though I never actually did. I felt tired and achy, and generally quite irritable, as well as having a horrible headache. Here are a few things which helped me:

  1. You want to keep your fluid levels up, but don’t drink TOO much as this will deplete your salt levels. Providing your pee is almost  clear, you’re probably well hydrated enough
  2. Invest in some rehydration drinks which contain electrolytes. Lack of electrolytes is one of the main reasons for feeling rough, so opt for Dioralyte, High 5 Zero or other zero-sugar rehydration drink to keep your electrolytes up.
  3.  Eat plenty of fat. Remember, with keto you’re supposed to replace the carbs you’re not eating with fat, so try eating some butter or coconut oil, avocado, cheese, prawns or something equally as fatty to bring your macros into line. These foods all contains electrolytes too.
  4. Try eating something salty, like peanuts. I found that a handful of peanuts REALLY helped with the nausea and churning stomach, plus they contain lots of good fat and salt.

Another way of avoiding keto flu is to go into ketosis gradually – something I didn’t do! Depending on how low you’ve decided to go (I eat below 20g of carbs a day, which is a lot lower than some people but still not truly ZERO carb which is what some people aim for), it can be a good idea to cut carbs slowly, over time. Cut carbs by 10g per day over the course of a week and the transition into ketosis shouldn’t be such an extreme one.

Here are some foods to eat which contain electrolytes and will help you to avoid keto flu:

Potassium avocados, nuts, dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale, salmon, plain yogurt and mushrooms
Magnesium nuts, dark chocolate, artichokes, fish and spinach
Sodium salt, soup broth, bacon, pickles and sauerkraut
Calcium cheese, leafy greens, broccoli, seafood (sardines!) and almonds
Phosphorus meats, cheese, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate
Chloride most vegetables, olives, seaweed and salt

Please feel free to leave me a comment with your own tips for avoiding keto flu below.

 

7 Handy (Portable) Keto Snacks

Something that I’ve noticed about keto is that the snacking can be quite tricky, purely because most traditional “snacks” are high in carbs. This means that when it comes to snacking, you often struggle to find something off the peg, so keeping a stash of things around that you can easily snack on is a good idea. I’m not saying that any of these are the BEST choices you could make in terms of nutrition, but they’re a convenient, grab-able option when you need it. Here’s a few of the things that I keep around as a snack when I’m feeling peckish or need to increase my fat/protein intake.

Biltong

Biltong

Biltong is an amazing snack when you’re eating keto because it’s literally dried meat with very little else added (be careful, some brands DO add sugar during the curing process and jerky, or BBQ flavoured varieties, are usually MUCH higher in carbs). We tend to buy ours in bulk of 1kg at a time and then weigh it out into 50g portions in ziplock bags. This is a great thing to grab on busy mornings when you haven’t got time to cook and a 50g portion will give you 2.5g carbs, 2.5g fat and 27,5g protein in around 145 calories (depending on the brand. We tend to opt for The Biltong Man)

Peanuts

Peanuts are full of good fats and are a great substitute if you’re a fan of crisps. I do like to snack on things which hve “crunch”, so these are perfect for me. Some people advocate unsalted nuts, but I like to have salted ones as I don’t add a lot of salt to the rest of my food. Be careful though, they’re high in calories, so I tend to measure mine into 25g or 50g portion before eating. A 25g serving of peanuts will give you approximately 1.1g carbs, 6.6g protein, 13.6g fat ans 158 calories.

Hartleys 10 Cal Jelly Pots

I discovered these by chance after being absolutely desperate for something sweet to eat. You often find with keto that you get a bit overwhelmed by the amount of savoury stuff you eat, so these jellies were like an oasis of happiness for me! They’re ready-made and in sealed pots which don’t need to be refrigerated so make the perfect thing to keep in your bag, car or desk and have less than 10 calories per pot (depending on flavour, usually between 7 and 10). They have an average of 1.8g of carbs with zero fat and protein and are a really refreshing way to have something sweet.

Cheese Strings

Okay, so cheese strings are probably not the most sophisticated way to eat cheese but the way they’re portioned make them an ideal keto snack. Each 20g stick usually has 4.5g of fat and 4.6g of protein depending on the variety you go for, with less than half a gram of carbs per stick, and they can be kept in a lunchbox or work fridge really easily.

Fat Bombs

These are a snack to make when you’ve got some spare time and come in a million different varieties, depending on your preferences. A lot of them are based on coconut oil and peanut butter, but I’ve also seem some lemon ones which look fantastic that I’m fully intending to make. They’re great because they keep your fat macros on target and contain MCTs which are great at keeping you in ketosis, plus you can make them in batches and portion out as and when you need them.

Peperami

Again, not exactly a sophisticated snack but definitely a convenient one. Each salami stick contains 130 calories, 0.6g carbs, 11g fat and 6g protein, which makes it a pretty tidy keto snack, in terms of your macros. Just don’t kiss anyone directly after eating it!

Pork Scratchings

There are SO many different varieties of pork scratching, some with more fat (and which feel “wetter” than others) but they’re all pretty good in terms of keeping your fat macros on target. We tend to opt for Awfully Posh Anglesey Sea Salt Crackling – each 40g bag contains just 0.2g carbs, 20g fat, 18.6g protein and 254 calories.

 

The Great Re-Feed Experiment

Last Friday was my youngest daughter’s third birthday and she’d requested a modest celebration of soft play with her two best friends followed by KFC for lunch and an afternoon with family. I’d already earmarked this as a day for a cheat and planned a “re-feed” day. My weightloss had stalled a little and lots of people had been telling me that a day of replenishing my glycogen levels might help to kick things off again, so I thought that I’d take the opportunity to use it as an experiment going forward, seeing as this would be my first ever cheat day.

One thing I’ve noticed is that keto can make other people feel a little…uncomfortable! If I were doing basic calorie counting (or even the dreaded Weight Watchers/Slimming World) I’d probably be able to have a biscuit with my tea every now and again, but with keto this type of treat is completely out of the question and although I go to great pains to explain that I really don’t mind, it seems to make the people around me feel bad if they choose to indulge. This is why choosing J’s birthday seemed sensible all round as I didn’t want to make everyone feel self-conscious about eating the birthday cake while I couldn’t! I’d already decided that I wouldn’t go mad with what I ate (more about that later…), just enjoy a guilt-free lunch and cake, which didn’t seem unreasonable to me.

For breakfast, I had my usual biltong and coffee, purely because we were on a time-limit. For lunch, I had a “Mighty Bucket for One” from KFC (thinking this would be a slightly healthier option, given the lack of bun) and later in the day I ate a piece of cake, a handful of Skittles and some Pringles, followed by some pizza at teatime. Here are my main observations:

  1. I used to think NOTHING of eating all of that and MORE on a daily basis and I really do not miss eating that way.
  2. I had acid reflux for the first time in WEEKS. I used to suffer daily but haven’t since eating keto.
  3. I woke up the next day feeling like I had a hangover. I was strictly back on keto straight away but it honestly felt like the sugar was giving me the sicky, headache-y feelings you get after a night on the booze.
  4. I felt bloated and pretty miserable, and like I’d gained back every single pound that I’ve lost so far.
  5. I was genuinely relieved to be back on-plan with eating and exercise the next day.

As I mentioned above, I was quite restrained in terms of how I USED to eat, but at the end of the day I decided to log everything I’d eaten into MyFitnessPal, just to see what my intake had actually been like for the day. I won’t lie; I was shocked:

From what I estimated (and I may have over-estimated slightly as I didn’t want to lie to myself), I ate 3830 calories, which consisted of 367g of carbs, 188g of fat and 147g of protein. In terms of the fat and protein, obviously they aren’t the end of the world, but almost FOUR HUNDRED grams of carbs? That’s 20 times what I’ve been eaing in a day, and I know I keep saying this, but I used to eat like that EVERY DAY. No wonder my blood sugar is a mess, no wonder I gained so much weight and no wonder I’m in the state that I am now.

Saturday was okay, I was back on the wagon and with glee. Sunday, however, was the day that the keto flu set in. Maybe if I hadn’t eaten like quite such an idiot the move back into ketosis wouldn’t have been so bad but I literally spent all day feeling nauseated and completely off my food. I tried to hit all my macros, keeping my fat levels up and supplementing with rehydration drinks for the electrolytes, and I knew what to expect from last time so I didn’t feel quite so horrendous, but for the sake of one day of eating bad stuff the after effects just aren’t worth it.

As it stands, I didn’t actually gain any weight, which is the one plus-side to all of it, and I’m back to the gym today so I’m hoping I’ve seen a bit of a loss by the end of the week but unless that loss is significant, it’s not going to be enough to make me want to have another re-feed day any time soon!

Have you tried a re-feed day? Do you have them regularly? Do you find the transition in and out of ketosis easy or as unpleasant as I do? Do leave me your thoughts in the comments below!